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dealing with negative comments on social media

Help, someone hates my Facebook page!

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One of the most dispiriting things that you can experience when doing social media is the potential negative comments on your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages. These can range from the mildly sniffy to the wildly abusive. It could be an irate ex-employee or a bored teenager. Occasionally, it could be a relation.

Whilst swearing loudly and punching your computer screen may seem like the most logical reaction, you should take a measured approach to negativity. The most important thing to do is:

Take a deep breath and realise every employer has to deal with this.

There. That’s the hard bit over with. The next stage is to manage things more practically. Here you need to put the comment into one of three categories:

a) The writer of the comment is being reasonable and deserves a considered response

b) The writer of the comment is being unreasonable but also deserves a considered response to counteract any future negativity

c) The writer of the comment is simply being abusive and should be deleted ASAP

You’ll find that there are a surprising number of comments that fall into category a). Categories b) and c) are often easy to spot and regularly feature a swear word. As a general rule, any comment including a swear word should be deleted (although try to be fair to those who misspell a normal word such a ‘public’ to accidentally create something rude). Keep your profanity filters set to high. These foul-mouthed people are stepping into your virtual home and, if you don’t want people swearing in your house, then you have the right to throw them out.

Categories a) & b) are where you have the most to gain from a potentially negative situation. Responding constructively gives you the chance to show that you’re an organisation that can listen, learn and defend itself with facts. It allows you to be authentic. As we always say, social media done well is a conversation. And not every conversation you have in life is a comfortable one.

Respond calmly and logically, acknowledge any truths and explain your side of things. Don’t reply to abuse with abuse. If you can’t think of a rational argument then maybe the problem lies in your organisation. That’s a bigger issue.

If this approach doesn’t seem to be working, then try to take things offline. Give an email address where the person can talk to you 1-to-1. This can burn off many of those who are simply seeking to cause mischief. If you can sort things out offline, then ask the person involved to either remove their post or acknowledge the response. If they refuse to go offline, then you have every right to close down the conversation and ignore or delete.

Whatever your response to a negative comment, don’t get downhearted. The world is full of people simply looking to make trouble and they don’t merit much attention. Above all, congratulate yourself. Any response that you make to comments can be seen by all those who’ve joined in the conversation in the first place. So it’s better to be in it and have some control than be out of it as a sideline spectator. More to the point, other participants will see your positive response and are likely to then think worse of the negative contributor and support you. You’ve created a splash.

Want to know more about how you can use social media to attract and retain the best employees? Get in touch with our team today to find out more.